By Camilla Kuckartz
The expansion of trade in services in the SADC region reached an important milestone. During the annual meeting of the SADC Committee of Ministers of Trade (CMT) on 23 July, 2018 in Pretoria, the first round of negotiations on trade in services was adopted. This step makes the lists of commitments by 14 member states an integral part of the SADC Protocol on Trade in Services as they guarantee levels of market access and national treatment in addition to a number of pro-competitive regulatory principles. Moreover, steps have been initiated to prepare for a second round of negotiations towards the liberalization of trade in services in new sectors such as business services.
GFA has been implementing the trade in services component of the GIZ SADC support programs ProSPECT - Strengthening the economic and trade policy capacities and competences in SADC and CESARE - Cooperation to Enhance SADC Regional Economic Integration since 2010. In June 2018, GFA was contracted to implement the trade in services component of the second phase of the CESARE program. Over a period of four years, a team of two long-term experts will support the SADC Secretariat and member states in the successful conclusion of outstanding sectors. The implementation of commitments of the first negotiation round and the preparation and implementation of the second round of negotiations will also be assisted.
As the services sector is the fastest growing sector in most SADC economies, the potential for economic gains from liberalizing trade in services is large. Therefore, advancing the trade in services negotiations is a critical step towards achieving deeper integration in the SADC region - an aspiration shared and promoted by GFA.